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ArcelorMittal faces air pollution complaint in France

ArcelorMittal faces air pollution complaint in France

Environmental group goes to court to penalise world's largest steel company
Photo credit: Photo: AFP

An environmental group has accused Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal of polluting the air near a steel mill in southern France and damaging the health of residents, the AFP news service reported.

The company's Fos-sur-Mer steelworks about 50 km west of Marseille exceeded the legal limits for benzene, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide over a five-year period beginning in 2013, a lawyer for France Nature Environnement (FNE) said on Tuesday at a judicial court hearing in Aix-en-Provence.

The world's largest steel company should be ordered to pay €110,000, attorney Mathieu Victoria told the court. ArcelorMittal failed to meet deadlines set by formal government notices, FNE said even as the local gouvernment authorised excess emissions several times, particularly for benzene and dust.

The steelworks was eventually fined €15,000 and a daily penalty, the group said. In the company's defense, ArcelorMittal replaced 136 coking ovens at the plant and "work took too long to meet the administrative deadline", the company's lawyer Joëlle Herschtel said.

Residents of Fos-sur-Mer lodged complaints in 2018 and 2019 against ArcelorMittal and other manufacturers for “endangering the lives of others” due to the pollution they suffer, AFP reported.

ArcelorMittal said in a statement on Tuesday that it sharply cut its emissions from the plant in the past decade. "The atmospheric emissions from our plant have been compliant for several years in annual terms compared to the limits of our operating permit", the steelmaker said.

The court is expected to produce its decision on 29 June.

ArcelorMittal said it has nearly 16,000 employees in France and more than 200,000 worldwide.

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